GPSolo Magazine - January/February 2004

Our Diverse Section

As the managing partner of a small law firm, I can attest to the fact that a diverse clientele is good. As a general practioner I can attest to the fact that representing clients who have a wide range of diverse legal issues is good. As the chair of the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Section, I can attest to the fact that having a diverse membership is great.

As I was thinking about my comments for this issue of GPSolo, I was reviewing the latest statistics regarding the Section’s membership. There is no question that the GPSSF Section is one of the fastest growing in the ABA. But if you look at the membership statistics, you will find that our membership is not only growing in numbers—it is also becoming more diverse. The Section has a diverse ethnic and cultural membership, and it is also diverse in age, gender, and areas of practice. Half of our members are law students and a third of our members practice in government/military or in-house settings. The number of women members is increasing as well, especially in the law student category.

For the past three years this Section has sponsored a Diversity Fellows Program. The focus of the program is to welcome three Diversity Fellows into our Section. Each Fellow is appointed to a position on a committee and each is assigned a mentor. The mentor’s charge is to promote the Fellow’s active participation in Section activities. The program has been extremely successful. The Section has been able to increase membership as well as attract new leadership. Currently there are two former Fellows sitting on our Council, and several hold leadership positions on key committees.

Let me introduce you to this year’s Fellows. William E. Brown hails from Forest Park, Georgia. He is currently Chief Military Justice for the First U.S. Army at Fort Gillem, Georgia. Olu Stevens hails from Louisville, Kentucky, where he operates a general civil practice. Edd Vasquez hails from Washington, D.C., where he is a sole practitioner specializing in intellectual property.

As you read this issue of GPSolo, you will be presented with different opinions and visions of diversity in the practice of law. Certain authors advocate for specialization of practice area, where others promote the benefits of a diverse practice. When it comes to the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division, however, I think we can all agree on the benefits of having a diverse membership—everyone fits within our Section.

Paul G. Hearne Award for Disability Rights Call for Nominations

The American Bar Association Commission on Mental & Physical Disability Law, in conjunction with the National Organization on Disability, is pleased to announce that it is now accepting nominations for the sixth annual Paul G. Hearne Award for Disability Rights.

Each year, a $1,000 cash award and a commemorative plaque are presented to an individual or an organization that has performed exemplary service in the furthering the rights, dignity, and access to justice for people with disabilities. The 2003 award went to the Disability Rights Advocates, a nonprofit law firm that works to end disability-based discrimination in many areas, including employment, education, and housing.

Please note that self-nominations are not accepted. The deadline is March 31, 2004 (postmarked).

For a nomination form, please visit our website at Or please contact us at 202/662-1573 to request a nomination form or more information.



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